Alumni - PhDs/PostDocs

Hella Schwanke, PhD student Brinkmann lab

Technische Universität Braunschweig (P01)

I am a molecular biologist, interested in the interplay between viruses and the cell-intrinsic innate immune defence. During my studies in molecular life sciences at the University of Lübeck, the virology lectures fostered my curiosity for the mechanisms deployed by viruses to remodel the host cell according to their needs. I think it is striking that many cellular processes were first discovered because a viral protein interfered with them, and there is still a lot we can learn about both the viruses and our own cells.
For our research at the TU Braunschweig, I want to find out how a single viral protein enables a herpes virus to modulate the complex pathways of the innate immune response. To do this, I am investigating the structure and interactions of this protein with other molecules, and based on this, its influence on the processes in the host cell.
In my spare time, I like to garden on the balcony and to explore the nearby Harz mountains.

Dr. rer. nat. Denise Ohnezeit, PostDoc Fischer lab

University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, UKE (P04)

Infectious diseases and the interplay of pathogens with the immune system have fascinated me since I started studying Biology in Hamburg and shortly in Montpellier. Therefore, I moved to Lübeck to study Infection Biology and gained a deeper insight into all kinds of infections and host-pathogen interactions. I appreciated the internationality of the program and was reinforced to invest more time in research, so I became a PhD student in the lab of Nicole Fischer, working with a very fascinating albeit elusive virus – the Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCPyV). Most of us are infected with MCPyV without developing any symptoms, but in rare cases the virus can induce the formation of a very aggressive skin tumor. I am particularly interested in the question how MCPyV exploits cellular molecular processes to establish persistent infection or induce tumorigenesis. These include for example the innate immune response or transcriptional regulatory processes that might be targeted by MCPyV during its life cycle. I am sure that there is still a lot to discover when it comes to host-pathogen interactions on the molecular level.
In my free time I enjoy cooking with friends, reading a good book and playing the piano or the guitar. Most refreshing for me is being by the sea and a perfect vacation should always include some surfing sessions.